It can be hard to know what safety training to implement in your facility—especially when you’re working on a limited budget. A heavy focus is often put on regulatory requirements, but when you’re still having the same issues after all of your compliance training boxes are checked, you often need to look to another solution. Recently, Paul Thompson of Epsilyte LLC sat down with SafeStart CCO Don Wilson to deliver a Lunch & Learn session to SafeStart staff where he reveals how, at first, he was a skeptic of human factors training.
In their quest to find a compatible safety solution to reduce injuries, Epsilyte had someone from SafeStart come to their facility to present the benefits of human factors training. Paul disclosed how the close to 100 workers at Epsilyte thought that human factors training was common sense and not required—but the fact remained that they still had an increasing number of recordable injuries (15 recordables in four years, with 8 of those being lost-time injuries).
An announcement came from management shortly thereafter that the workers did not expect. It said:
In the coming months, we will be embracing a NEW safety program called SafeStart. We need the support of everyone to reduce our injury rates. Please give your full cooperation as we start to plan and train this new program.
The fear in the workplace was at an all-time high, as they thought their plant was going to be shut down and they’d all be jobless due to the impact of the injuries on the business. Giving SafeStart a chance wasn’t really an option—if they were going to continue working at Epsilyte, this was something they had to do.
“The terminology and human factors were being incorporated in everything. So along the way employees started to see human factors and what they learned, everywhere,” Paul said about the SafeStart training. “And contractors were now seeing it everywhere. Some were surprised to find out that a lot of the contractors that were visiting our site already knew and spoke the language though they had never been formally trained. Contractors were seeing human factors at other sites more and more often.”
“Human factors was now a popular topic. Using the language to address safety concerns, employees knew what they were talking about. Those conversations were recognized and rewarded and issues mitigated,” Paul continued. “I’ll give you an example of that—we have very large vessels that some of you who’ve visited the site may have seen—they’re called reactors. It’s where a chemical reaction happens not to be confused with a nuclear reactor. Inside that reactor is a big agitator, it’s got very, very sharp blades. A contractor was asked to perform the task of going inside to set up scaffolding and do some cleaning. The contractor mentioned in a tailgate briefing or before starting the job, hey, analyzing close calls—last time I was in there you know, I kind of bumped into one of those blades. You know, I got a little tired, I got a little complacent and bumped into it. Cut right through my Tyvek jumpsuit. You might want to think about that before we go in. Consideration was taken, the group met, extra PPE was added, they went in, guarded the blades to eliminate the sharp edges and the improvement has now been a task going forward anytime they enter the vessel. It came from a contractor, didn’t even come from an employee.”
After their SafeStart implementation, the folks at Epsilyte noticed their near-miss reporting was at an all-time high, which would allow for corrections to be made in the moment. They also noticed their injury rates were going down—they finally hit zero recordable incidents for the first time in years.
But in order to maintain that success in managing human factors, they knew they couldn’t stop there. There’s no finish line when it comes to safety, and you always need to be improving. They integrated human factors into their JSAs, their start work and their work permitting, as well as into their operating procedures. Employees were also proactively performing Rate Your State.
Knowing what has worked for others is often a great first step to finding which safety training program you should implement in your facility. Our guide 5 Repeatable Patterns for Safety Success can provide more insight and shares the patterns that can be used to achieve better safety results—with a few examples from our client success stories that provide real-life examples.
To hear more about Epsilyte’s success with human factors training at their facility, check out the full Lunch & Learn session here.